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Creating a safe and healthy school
June 10, 2024

By Philadelphia Hebrew Charter Healthy Investigator reporters | Several Philadelphia Hebrew Public Charter School (PHP) staff members said in recent interviews that they help make the school community a healthy place by making sure students have what they need to learn and feel safe.

How well the students and staff members feel and how much they achieve in school depend on a healthy school environment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is a government agency whose goal is to protect the world around us.

Healthy food in the cafeteria, water fountains, and clean spaces can create a healthy environment, says kidshealth.org and the National School Climate Center, an organization that helps schools become positive environments.

At PHP, the cafeteria serves a variety of food such as quesadillas, steamed vegetables, apple sauce, and bagels. The school also has water fountains and water bottle refilling stations. Teachers and students try to keep their classrooms and hallways clean.

Everyone in the building can work together to make their school and community places that feel safe and respectful, according to the National School Climate Center.

Elyssa Yuen, head of PHP said she likes helping the school community by “shouting out” kids’ positive accomplishments during 8:30 morning announcements. “For kids to be celebrated makes me feel a part of a community,” she said. “My favorite thing is making a difference.”

Sarah Hanrahan, dean of academics, said she believes “we built a school that brings joy and support to the students of Philadelphia and I’m proud of all the students of PHP,” she said. She helped start PHP in 2019.

What she said she likes most about supporting the school community is working with the students. “The work that we’ve done together is so important and I hope to continue it,” she said.

Sam Agoos, PHP lead social worker, said he worked with Claire Kelley, the family and community coordinate, and Kyerstyn O’Hara, school social worker to organize a care closet with extra clothing for students in need. He said he wants to help give access to resources to people who need them in the school community.

Stephanie Jordan, a fourth-grade teacher, said a good thing she does for the school community is shape young children’s minds every day. “I get to help students from Philadelphia,” she said. As a Black woman, she said, being a teacher is really important to her. Helping her students helps her to build relationships with them.

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How Emily Hurst helps her community

Emily Hurst, PHP executive director, said she lives on a very special block. “Our neighbors got to- gether at the beginning of September to do a block cleanup.” She said there were about five other neighbors involved.

“It had an impact on us living together on a cleaner block and knowing we can support each other,” she said, added that she would definitely do it again. “You feel great when you help others. It makes your heart fuller.”

Illustration by a fifth-grade Healthy Investigator reporter.

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Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.

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